At UFC 269, Julianna Peña silenced many a critic and generated the sorrow of overconfident gamblers across the globe who bet the house on Amanda Nunes. The bout was a true illustration of the unpredictability of MMA and the magnitude a big PPV moment could carry.
There was one man who was not impressed, however. And it wasn’t just anybody; it was the legendary and undefeated former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Unlike many other spectators, Khabib was not moved by Peña’s inspirational performance. In fact, during an Eagle FC press conference, Khabib expressed in so many words that Peña’s victory over Nunes was a testament to WMMA’s inferiority.
“I am like, we can watch what Julianna Peña did with Amanda Nunes [at UFC 269]. But Julianna Peña, she is not like the greatest or something like that. She just beat Amanda Nunes like [on the day]. We can watch not many good [female] fighters all around the world. There are only like five or six of them,” Khabib said.
Peña Heartbroken Over Khabib’s Comments
Until last week, Julianna Peña had not responded to Khabib’s remarks, and we now have a glimpse as to why that is.
Before her bout with Amanda Nunes was even made, she scoffed at a comparison between Nunes and Khabib when MMA reporter Ariel Helwani compared the fear factor the two figures carried across the sport. Peña would even outright demand that Helwani never make that comparison again, implying that The Eagle was too lofty of a figure to be juxtaposed with the Lionness.
With this level of reverence in mind, it should come as no surprise that Peña was saddened to hear Khabib’s take on her championship victory and his downgrade of all of WMMA in the progress.
“I saw in a presser that they asked [Khabib] a question and he was just completely downgrading the whole win and everything like that….it totally broke my heart…” Peña said in a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “I was like, ‘Dude, you’re breaking my heart, man. Like, I freaking love you. Like, seriously.”
Khabib’s name was brought up when Peña and Rogan were discussing fighters who retired on their own terms. Peña begrudgingly credited Khabib for the way he retired and stuck to his guns but still couldn’t help but revisit the recent wounds the ground-and-pound specialist inflicted on her.
“He must be friends with Kayla Harrison or something. I don’t know. Because he was like, [MOCK KHABIB ACCENT] ‘If this is the top of women’s division, it’s a joke,” Peña said. “I mean, it wasn’t very nice. I didn’t appreciate it, Khabib.”
Khabib’s comments were made when asked if there were any plans of adding women’s divisions to his Eagle FC promotion in the near future. Khabib left the door open, but as you might have guessed from his comments, he isn’t in any big hurry to make this addition to his promotion’s overall roster.
Meanwhile, Khabib criticisms aside, Peña is hoping to deliver an encore of her UFC 269 victory over Nunes sometime in 2022 in a rematch that she, Nunes, and UFC President Dana White have already signed off on, with a potential season of The Ultimate Fighter leading up to the big sequel.
Perhaps if she defeats Nunes again and proves that it wasn’t a fluke, she will have gained the approval of this man she once admired and perhaps boost his perception of WMMA in the process.
What are your thoughts on Julianna Peña’s reaction to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s comments about her UFC 269 win over Amanda Nunes?